8Asking the Right Questions

When you coach others, be as curious as a 10-year-old child.

—Dr. Terrence E. Maltbia, professor, Columbia University Coaching Certification Program

I was raised in the era of physical libraries, card catalogues, and encyclopedias. If I had a question, I could look for an answer in an encyclopedia. If it wasn’t there, I could go to the library and search through long rectangular drawers for the right card in the catalogue that would take me to a book with the answer.

After growing up using this formal, tedious process to access books and information, I love the convenience now of being able to ask Google or Siri my questions and get many answers immediately.

Ironically, even with so much information available, research shows that we stop asking questions as we get older. We even expect information to immediately surface at our fingertips. In a Newsweek article titled “The Creativity Crisis,” Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman say, “Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day. . . . By middle school they’ve pretty much stopped. . . . It’s no coincidence that this same time is when student motivation and engagement plummets. They didn’t stop asking questions because they lost interest: it’s the other way around. They lost interest because they stopped asking questions” (Bronson and Merryman 2010).

Why do we stop asking questions? Maybe because we get more familiar with the world or think we have it all figured out. Maybe ...

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